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Horizon Chase 2 review - Handles like it's on rails

Horizon Chase 2 review - Handles like it's on rails

Horizon Chase 2 has charm but is light on the challenge

Seeing as SEGA and Ferrari is seemingly never going to sort out their differences and launch a new OutRun, I guess I have to look elsewhere. For arcade racers, it often feels like slim pickings, though perhaps that’s because I’m always looking for blue skies and red sportscars. I had hoped that Horizon Chase 2 would fit the bill and, to a degree, it does. But it also gets a lot wrong.

Horizon Chase 2 is a simple game, it doesn’t ask too much of the player. You’re given a small collection of swish cars, some are extravagant and sleek, while others sum up regions of the world in a more characterful way. The main single-player attraction is a world tour, which takes you through several countries including Japan, America, and Brazil, plus a few more.

It’s a pretty standard affair, there are races based over several laps where you’ll chase the top spot, or point-to-point stages which feel more like a time trial. There’s no denying the heart of this racer is in the arcades. Playing it gave me waves of nostalgia and memories of playing Cruisin’ USA or Virtua Racer in the arcade when I was younger. It’s both a good and a bad thing.

Let’s start with the good. The tracks and cars have a cartoony appeal, with bold colours and oversize attractions that whizz by at speed. Each locale is easy to discern and you get a sense of place through a stylised version of each country. Japan, for example, has neon signage, towering buildings, and even a Gundam-style statue standing over a track. It’s gorgeous in places, even if everything passes by so quickly.

Horizon Chase 2
Horizon Chase 2

The cars are similar, they’re an idea of the kind of car you wanted to own when you were a kid. They’re mostly sleek curves, bright paintwork, and a series of interchangeable bodies and wheels. It’s playing pretend with the bubblegum appeal of the Saturday morning cartoons.

To match this visual simplicity the cars are overly easy to use. No matter which car I hopped into they all felt about the same because Horizon Chase 2 tends to hold your hand a bit too much. When I say it handles like it’s on rails, it’s not a compliment. Over the entire single-player campaign, I probably pressed the brake a handful of times. As long as you’re turning hard into each corner, you’ll speed around it with no worries of coming off the road, and even if you do crash, it’s not a major penalty and the turbo function sees you zoom past the competition.

While that’s fun, for a while, it soon becomes so easy that any joy is sapped from the game. And the upgrading of vehicles only makes that more achievable. Racing levels up your cars and each level gives you an upgrade point to spend on a variety of features that, overall, make the car perform better. But none of them are bad cars. It’s a help to get some extra handling prowess, or an extra turbo in the tank, but it never feels discernable.

In one race, quite near the end, when I was racing through Japan, I didn’t use the boost function once and still won the race. It was a slightly closer competition, but I won and the job was done. Using the boost I would have still won, just a little faster. This isn’t to say the act of racing doesn’t bring joy, there are many points where you’re weaving in and out of traffic into clear air and it feels great, however, that’s only at the start of each race and the rest of it is sailing past landmarks.

There’s no need to brake, and no need to drift. In fact, drifting isn’t even a thing in Horizon Chase 2. There’s no throwing the car into the apex of a turn for the back end to squirm out and kick up clouds of dust and smoke. The car just turns the corner and you’re off down the road. There are the visuals for a drift, but nothing you can mechanically do to make the racing feel more breakneck.

You can collect blue coins around a track for an extra trophy after the race, which makes things feel a little different, it adds some replayability if you miss any. And, if you like chasing trophies as well as horizons, there are plenty in each race for when you complete certain tasks or challenges.

Horizon Chase 2
Horizon Chase 2

There’s a multiplayer option but sadly when I went to try it out I struggled to find any players, and there are some solo tournaments to work through where you can change up the difficulty, but it’s more of the same just with obnoxious AI drivers.

What starts as a colurful and fun arcade racer ends up being a bit too ‘by the numbers’ and spoils itself with no dynamic difficulty, or options to make things a bit more exciting. It’s not a bad game, but it is a bit forgettable. Arcade racing is hard to pull off and Horizon Chase 2 almost gets there but neglects to remember that you still need some highs and lows to make for a great experience.

Pros: Lovely cartoon visuals, easily accessible, a wealth of great tracks and cars

Cons: Too easy, racing becomes bland, very short experience

For fans of: Out Run, Cruisin’ USA, Arcade racing cabinets

5/10: Average

Horizon Chase 2 is available now on PlayStation 5 (version tested), Xbox SeriesX|S, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC. Review code was provided by the publisher. Find a complete guide to GAMINGbible's review scores here.

Featured Image Credit: Aquiris Game Studio, Epic Games

Topics: Epic Games, Retro Gaming